Ten Speed Bike Help

A friend of mine has just recently purchased a second hand ten speed bike. She has never ridden a ten speed before and is unsure about when to shift gears, what gear to use when etc.

I am not much help to her as I have never ridden a ten speed either. (I’m in a wheelchair).

Any advice? Are there any websites explaining the proper procedure/technique?

The basic idea of having gears on a bike is to smooth out the pedaling effort and keep up a steady cadence. If it is getting too hard to pedal, shift into a lower gear. If you’re pedaling so fast your feet are coming off the pedals, shift into a higher gear. With a little practice she’ll probably find a good default “cruising” gear for level ground riding very quickly. On my old ten speed I usually used 7th as my cruising gear.

Another good practice is to remember to shift into a low gear before you get off the bike, so you’ll have an easily time getting started when you get back on.

Presumably the bike has two shifter levers. The left level is the High/Low lever, which moves you from 1-5 gears to 6-10 gears. The right lever moves you from one gear to the next gear. (e.g., 6th to 7th) Unless you’re going from flat road to a steep hill, its much more comfortable to shift using the right level.

Here’s a good page:
http://www.jimlangley.net/crank/bikingskills.html

And, in reality a ten-speed (or any other speed) has two less speeds than actually promised. By this I mean on a ten-speed, you don’t use the small chainring (front cog) with the small cog, and the large chainring with the large cog, making for eight usable speeds. Using the ‘forbidden’ speeds can cause premature wear on the parts, since the chain connects at a sharp angle.